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Conrad among other CMs on China’s watch list
Parliament takes note of ‘sensational report’
NEW DELHI: Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and two of his predecessors are both on China’s watch list along with a host of other top leaders, starting from Prime Ministers to Presidents to Union Minister Kiren Rijiju, a sensational report mentioned in the Parliament on Tuesday said.
Though the report does not name the former chief ministers of Meghalaya, it is presumed that they are Mukul Sangma, who ruled for seven long years, and his predecessor, DD Lapang.
During their time, the Doklam incident took place on the borders and there were several incidents of intrusion in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim, which have long frontiers with China.
The investigative report of a famed Chinese company, Zhenhua’s (OKIDB) Overseas Key Information DataBase reveals that at least 180 politicians and bureaucrats on the target list are from the Northeast states, Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.
This assumes significance given that Zhenhua data claims to be working with the intelligence, government, military and security agencies, the investigative report published by The Indian Express and raised in Parliament on Tuesday, said.
In OKIDB, former chief ministers from the Northeast include two from Assam, three from Arunachal Pradesh, two from Meghalaya, one each from Manipur, Sikkim and Mizoram.
The list mentions bureaucrats including Umang Narula, now advisor to the Lieutenant Governor in Ladakh, and Japu Deru, former MLA from Bomdila and former advisor to Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Pema Khandu.
Those in the Zhenhua list include at least a dozen current or former chief ministers and their relatives; ten serving ministers holding infrastructure portfolios such as power, water resources, irrigation, river development and public works. Besides, several key bureaucrats from Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura are in the list.
Those being monitored include Nagaland Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio, and his deputy, Yanthungo Patton.
Not only do the Northeastern states and the Union Territories share international borders with five countries including China, they are key to the Centre’s Act East Policy being a critical physical bridge between India and South-East Asia.
China has more reasons to snoop on the North East since it considers the whole of Arunachal Pradesh as its part. It also had several border violations in the region, including Sikkim, even if it recognises the former Himalayan kingdom as a part of India.
Besides border issues, China for over a decade, is on a dam-building spree and water diversion plans along the Brahmaputra (Yarlung Tsangpo) on its side also remain a source of tension between the two neighbours. There were reports that Chinese engineers even blasted many hills in Tibet to make huge dams to convert and store water on its side.
Significantly, the database includes as many as 30 prominent leaders and bureaucrats from Kashmir Valley and Ladakh, the hotbed of India-China standoff at the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The list includes former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, former Union minister, Karan Singh and others.
Meanwhile, the government has taken note of the report and is evaluating the depth of data being collected and the risks it may pose to national security.
Top government officials said an assessment was being prepared in consultation with the ministry of electronics and information technology (MeITY), which has a specialised division on cyber laws and e-security.
But, sources from a Chinese Embassy in Delhi have said that China has not asked and would not ask companies or individuals to collect or provide data, information and intelligence stored within other countries’ territories for the Chinese government by installing “backdoors” or by violating local laws.